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Nutritics Case Study: LEON

"With Nutritics, we straight away know which improvements are needed and adjust accordingly. Personally, the ease-of-use is what impresses me the most."
30th Sep 2020
Why can’t fast food be good food? That was the question that co-founder John Vincent asked over fifteen years ago, prior to embarking on a journey that would change how the UK looked at fast food. After posing that initial question, John, along with his co-founder Henry Dimbleby, asked another. “What would fast food be like in heaven?”. They decided it would be fast, convenient, good for you, kind on your pocket, and on the planet. Not long after that realisation, LEON Restaurants was born. 

LEON is the home of “Naturally Fast Food”. The UK restaurant chain was established with the mission to ‘make it easier for everyone to eat and live well’. LEON has proven to be a massive hit with an increasingly health-conscious public. 

Although the menu is inspired by the healthy mediteranean diet, the restaurant chain does not service any one specific diet. However, LEON has become a favourite for those following alternative, free-from diets such as paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. In 2004, LEON opened its first restaurant in Carnaby Street, London. Less than fifteen years later and LEON has enjoyed a remarkable rise. In 2016 it opened its first international outlet in Amsterdam. Eight more European locations followed as well as a first venture into the US market. It now has over 66 outlets worldwide. With plans for further international expansion, this incredible story is far from told. 

Background 

“We follow all the principles of the mediteranean diet with lots of plants, good meats and good fats. We will never stop trying to make our food, the tastiest food.” These are just some of the ingredients pivotal to LEON’s success according to co-founder, John Vincent. 

As the company has grown, this eagerness to improve and innovate with its menu has remained the same. This sentiment was echoed by Anca Ghitescu, LEON’s Technical Manager. Anca works closely with the Food Team to develop new dishes for the naturally fast food chain. 

“We have a very innovative and creative food development team at LEON. Our Food Team come from all backgrounds including food science, product development, cuisine, hospitality, retail and manufacturing. Our team is constantly testing new dishes that fit the LEON philosophy. After we come up with a suitable concept, there is a long process of mixing and matching ingredients. Our chefs try to make each dish as nutritionally valuable and tasty as possible.” 

Anca went on to further describe the importance of getting the nutritional makeup of a dish right. “For us, the nutritional components of the dish are very important. People come to LEON because it tastes great but also because it’s healthy. It’s a major part of the attraction.” 

LEON first approached Nutritics in late 2016. At the time, LEON had been using a nutritional analysis tool to help in their menu development. But as Anca describes, the system was not without its faults. “The old system was very manual and laborious. Every new dish we created had to be inspected by a number of different parties at every stage. We found it difficult to trust the nutritional data. That was part of the reason that everything had to be verified so frequently. There was a lot of second guessing.” 

“Aside from the menu development, the license itself was becoming very outdated. We only had a single user license with one log-in. This meant that our only access to the tool was through one heavily-used laptop!” 

As LEON continued to expand into new territories and innovate with its dishes, the need for a new, more reliable and sophisticated nutritional analysis system became more apparent. Thankfully, through Nutritics, LEON found the perfect solution. 

Solution

After making the decision to upgrade their nutritional analysis software, it was an intern within LEON that first put Nutritics forward for consideration. The intern had been using Nutritics in her nutritional studies at University and championed its credibility and accuracy. After undertaking a brief trial, Anca decided to push ahead. Before she could do so however, she had to convince her team of the merits of Nutritics. Anca recalls the “pitch” she delivered.

“My pitch to the team focused on three main areas. Firstly, I knew that because of the profile of the system and its data sources, Nutritics would provide nutritional information we could trust. With the old system we could never trust the accuracy 100%. I also knew that having Nutritics’ experienced support team behind us would be vital. Finally, I knew the background of Nutritics. Their system is developing all the time and we could trust that their software would keep developing into the future.” Thankfully, Anca’s team trusted her judgment and backed Nutritics. 

The LEON In-Store Experience 

That fateful question of “Why can’t fast food be good food?” emerged after both John and Henry had spent years on the road as traveling consultants. They had grown tired of the unhealthy routine, stopping at service stations, being forced to eat bad food out of convenience. With LEON however, the experience has changed drastically. 

When a customer walks into a LEON restaurant, they know that by choosing convenience they are not sacrificing on taste or nutritional value. If they adhere to a certain diet such as veganism, they can do so. Above the counter, all dishes are displayed along with their allergen profile. For vegans in particular, whose choices are often overly restricted on the high street, LEON becomes a major draw. 

For LEON, the sense of responsibility, to service the on-the-go, health conscious customer, is very real. That is where having Nutritics becomes so important, as Anca explains. “We use Nutritics primarily for menu development. People come to LEON with specific dietary requirements or to attain certain health benefits from their food. This is something we heavily consider when developing dishes. With Nutritics, when we input ingredients, we can see the allergens or if the dish has too much salt, sugar or any other component. Straight away we know improvements are needed and adjust accordingly. Personally, the ease-of-use is what impresses me the most. It has made the whole menu development process much more efficient.” 

Once the dishes are finalised, Nutritics software provides the nutrition and dietary information or allergy profile. These are then displayed alongside each dish and become a key part of the in-store, or even online, experience. 

Results 

Through using Nutritics, LEON’s entire menu development process has become more streamlined. Anca and her team have access to nutritional data they can trust and an experienced support team behind them. But that is not the only reason why Anca feels more confident with Nutritics. 

In 2017, LEON received a large investment which will go towards an ambitious US expansion. The following year LEON announced that 20 new outlets would be created in Ireland within four years. Anca explained why having Nutritics would become even more important in the years to come. “With our previous nutritional software provider, we only had a single user license. As our team grew and we expanded internationally, the one user log-in didn’t make a lot of sense. With Nutritics, all data is stored on the cloud and multiple users can access the platform from anywhere. As the company continues to grow, this is something we appreciate more and more.” 

“From a nutritional standpoint, the move into the US market is being made a lot easier with Nutritics. The United States has a different nutritional profile to what we are used to in the UK. However, as Nutritics has a number of location-specific databases, we are able to access an entirely different US database to assist in our American menu development. For our Food Team in particular, this is making the transition a lot easier.” A simple desire to make fast food healthier started a remarkable journey for LEON. It is a journey that Nutritics is excited to be a part of. This feeling is reciprocated by Anca. 

“Our relationship with Nutritics has always been excellent. Occasionally, we have asked for updates to the database or new features to be added to the software. Their team has always been very accessible and obliging to our requests. At LEON, we have enjoyed a very successful few years and continue to grow. With Nutritics, we are grateful to have a team that will grow along with us.” 


Nutritics can be customised to meet your needs. Easy to use, cloud-based, and offering the most comprehensive set of food reference databases available, Nutritics is developed by technologists and regulatory experts, specifically for use within the food service industry. Click through to try Nutritics for free for 7 days, or to speak to one of our expert advisors.